I’ve been very satisfied with their attitude and the way they approached the recent scrimmage,” Offensive Coordinator Dave Rader said Tuesday. “The players come every day with a mind to work and improve. We’re a better team walking off each day.
“We’re far from error-free, but that’s why we call it practice.”
On defense Joe Kines must replace three linemen now playing in the NFL (Kindal Moorehead, Jarret Johnson and Kenny King). And last season’s leading tackler, Brooks Daniels, will not compete in 2003.
Dave Rader observes practice.
He commented, “People need to remember that when you take a great player out of the lineup, someone’s got to step up and make those plays. Those three defensive linemen and Brooks accounted for a lot of plays last year. Now somebody has got to reproduce those plays.
“It’s just like a salesman with his accounts. When you lose an account, if you’re going to make money you’ve got to replace it.”
Kines isn’t worried about talent, but he’s anxious to see which individuals will step up and make the tackles. “To win games, you don’t just need 11 guys to make you legal,” he said. “Somebody has got to make a play. That’s what we’re missing right now. We need to pick it up and make plays.”
Alabama scrimmaged for the first time Monday, and Rader was generally satisfied with the effort. His unit scored five touchdowns, not bad considering that defenses are usually way ahead this time of year.
“In the scrimmage the players did a fine job picking up the offense,” Rader said. “We fought through the heat. We gave effort up to the last goal-line scrimmage play. Our sideline communication has been good.
“We’ll demand even more of them throughout the rest of camp.”
For his part, Kines was pleased with his unit’s intensity when the football got close to the endzone. “The goal-line situations the whole camp have been good,” Kines said. “The enthusiasm and hitting picks up when we’re down there.”
Each coordinator singled out individual players for praise. Rader complimented quarterback Brodie Croyle on his reads and ability to pick up the offense. And reserve quarterbacks Spencer Pennington and Brandon Avalos are both improved.
“Probably Spencer’s best days of camp have been the past few days,” Rader said. “He needed them. And Brandon’s best day of camp was (Monday's) scrimmage.
“Those two do have a different skill set, but Brandon is a lot better passer than people think he is. He’s just a little faster.”
Kines is looking for a true freshman to play at linebacker. “Down the road Terrence Jones is going to be a good one,” he said.
Bama’s starting safeties have also impressed Kines. “Roman Harper and Charles Jones are both playing well,” he noted. “Harper is a really heavy hitter. Roman’s a good kid, and Charles is smart. Both of them make a good pair of safeties.”
Kines is especially grateful that the recent injury to his star lineman wasn’t serious. All-SEC defensive end Antwan Odom suffered a sprained neck last weekend, but should return soon. “We’re very thankful his situation is okay,” Kines said. “We look forward to getting him back as quick as we can. He had a real good camp going.”
Roman Harper steps up this year to start at strong safety.
There remain only 17 days before kickoff versus South Florida, and Rader knows his unit needs every minute of practice. “We’re far from being where we want to be on execution play-to-play,” he said. “But I don’t fault anyone’s effort. The kids come every day with an attitude to play.”
Kines has seen some good things so far, but he’s looking for more. “We’ve got to take the positives and build on them,” he said. “You’re looking for little improvements right now. Anything to hang your hat on.”
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